The theme of our incredibly successful World Congress of Families XIII gathering in Verona, Italy this past March was, “The wind of change: Europe and the Global Pro-family Movement.” Throughout the Congress we heard from pro-family champions across Europe who reported the incredible momentum they were experiencing. We saw some of that first hand when over 20,000 people from across Italy and Europe descended on Verona to participate in our “March for the Family” event commemorating the conclusion of the World Congress.
This momentum has continued across the world, with pro-family movements and political leaders achieving incredible victories, including in countries like Brazil and Guatemala which elected national leaders supportive of our issues. In Italy, pro-family supporters made huge gains in regional and European elections, with the Lega party led by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, a pro-family leader who gave a rousing keynote address at WCF XIII in Verona, playing a prominent role. The Lega party is now the most popular party in Italy.
Meanwhile, the incredible pro-life movie “Unplanned” — which celebrated its international premiere with a screening for WCF XIII attendees in Verona — has continued to defy critics on the left. Despite an extraordinary effort to suppress publicity for the movie and limit the number of theaters willing to show the film, “Unplanned” became the top selling DVD on Amazon, with nearly 250,000 copies sold.
There’s a lot going on out there that shows that people are getting off the sidelines and into the fight for the family. Still, momentum is rarely a straight line, and recent developments in Italy underscore that powerful foes of the family will resort to all kinds of maneuvers to oppose pro-family efforts. It is being reported that after having resigned under pressure by Lega Party leaders including Mr. Salvini who favored new elections, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has reportedly reached an agreement with archrival political foes to form a new government rather than face voters. Many experts have commented that it’s extraordinary that two weak forces, political parties on the decline, would propose to govern a nation based on a vow to avoid facing the voters they propose to govern. How long such an unholy coalition of convenience can survive now becomes an overarching question.
This edition of our newsletter covers all these developments, and more.
The International Organization for the Family (IOF) is proud of our work around the world to promote and protect the family and to advocate for timeless family values. We depend on individual supporters for the resources needed to conduct our critical programs. We are currently in the midst of an important fundraising drive where a group of supporters has come together to match every donation to IOF up to a total of $200,000. I ask that you make a generous donation to support us.
We have a lot of momentum on our side – the winds of change are indeed blowing in our direction – but to capitalize on this momentum it is critically important that our financial footing be strengthened. Please give generously to support our work realizing that your gift will be matched, doubling its size and effectiveness.
Thank you for all you do to support IOF and the worldwide pro-family movement!
A Powerful Voice at the UN Civil Society Conference
By E. Douglas Clark, Director of UN and International Policy
The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference held on August 26-28 in Salt Lake City was the first time the annual event has taken place in a venue other than New York City or abroad. With some 3,000 participants from over 135 countries, and based on the theme of “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities,” the conference was, among other things, a forum for stridently competing social agendas. IOF was there and our voice was powerful in support of family and children.
Our acclaimed books on the indispensable role of family in development— Family Capital and the SDGs and The Family and the MDGs— were on prominent display and were provided, along with supplementary information, to individuals from numerous countries. In addition, IOF co-sponsored one of the most well-attended and interactive workshops of the conference. Entitled “Achieving Justice through Children’s Rights,” it featured three outstanding speakers, as explained in the following report by IOF’s Wendy Wixom, our talented UN Policy and Projects Coordinator, who worked with co-sponsors in organizing the event.
The incredible pro-family movie “Unplanned” became the top-selling DVD on Amazon. Most movie producers are happy with 20,000-30,000 DVD sales, but “Unplanned” has racked up close to a quarter million sales of DVDs! That’s on top of the extraordinary $19 million the movie grossed in theaters in its 19 week run and in spite of an unprecedented effort to suppress publicity for and distribution of the movie.
IOF is extremely proud of the fact that “Unplanned” made its international premiere at a special screening for attendees of our World Congress of Families XIII conference in Verona.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, get it today on DVD+Digital, Blu-ray+Digital, or via Streaming! Visit www.SeeUnplanned.com and enter the promo code “IOF” at checkout!
WCF Africa to Take Place in Accra, Ghana This Fall
The World Congress of Families Africa will take place in Accra, Ghana on October 31—November 1, 2019.
The theme of the gathering will be The African Family and Sustainable Development: Strong Families, Strong Nation. Leaders from both the civil society sector and the religious world will meet to discuss some of the challenges the family faces in Africa as development is sometimes pitted against adherence to traditional values. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the work IOF does regionally throughout the world and to witness the great coalition of partnerships we’ve assembled.
Rival, Weakened Political Parties in Italy Seek Coalition Government To Avoid Elections
After having suffered major losses in regional and European elections, two weakened political parties have reportedly joined forces to form a new coalition government in Italy with a principal vow of avoiding having to face voters in new elections which were called for by the rising Lega party, the most popular party in Italy.
As a result of the coalition of convenience between the Five Star Movement and the Democrat Party, Giuseppe Conte will continue to serve as Prime Minister of Italy, but the Five Star leader will be dependent upon the support of archrivals in order to govern. The new coalition will reportedly seek to exclude Lega party leaders who enjoy strong public support and recently won numerous victories in regional and European elections. Lega party leader Matteo Salvini, a pro-family conservative who had served as Deputy Prime Minister, had called for new elections in Italy. The Five Star/Democrat coalition seeks to expressly avoid having to face voters.
“This is a weak, messy, fragile solution — with a very weak democratic legitimacy,” Giovanni Orsina, a professor of history at LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome told the Washington Post. “These are parties that for a year now have been losing [regional and local] elections.”
In 2014, the Ashers Bakery in Belfast declined the request of a gay activist to bake a cake celebrating same-sex ‘marriage.’ The decision by the Christian owners of the bakery began what has thus far been a five year saga to defend their right to avoid having to convey messages with which they profoundly disagree because they violate their deeply held religious beliefs.
Danielle and Amy McArthur, owners of Ashers, lost the initial case and a subsequent appeal, but last October won a unanimous victory from the UK Supreme Court. Not satisfied with having been summarily rejected by the Supreme Court, the gay activist who brought the original case is now appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that his “rights” were not given due consideration by the UK’s top court.
This appeal is the latest in a series of legal cases around the world where supporters of traditional marriage are continuously harassed in the courts even when they have been vindicated against charges of discrimination. In the US, Christian baker Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop are now facing a third legal challenge to his refusal to design a custom cake to celebrate something that he opposes due to his religious beliefs. The latest challenge comes from a gay activist who has demanded a cake to celebrate a “gender transition.”
In a shocking new report, a study shows that nearly a quarter of babies are aborted in England and Wales. Excluding stillbirths and miscarriages, 23.8 per cent of pregnancies were cut short by abortions in 2018. Catherine Robinson, a spokesperson for Right to Life UK, which compiled the figures, said it was a “national tragedy” that so many pregnancies end in abortion. “Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies.”